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The politics behind St. Patrick’s Day March 17, 2010

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.

St. Patrick’s Day is an overly big holiday in the US compared to the other non-Irish, English-speaking nations (the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand). There are Irish-descended populations in many nations, but the US’s are more vocal.

You have to look back more than ninety years to see why and even earlier for the original impetus for big St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Ireland was part of the UK. Fully and all of the island, not just the northern portion of today. There was a huge and often violent push for Irish independence. Irish immigrants in the US were some of the more vocal and vociferous supporters. Their prosperty in the US allowed them to send monies back to the old country, mostly for famine relief and aid to the poor or widows or childrn or the elderly, but also in arms and money for groups like the original Irish Republican Army – the main group fighting to push the English out.

Irish Catholics revere St. Patrick and green is the Catholic color there. Orange is the color for the Protestants, deriving from English king William of Orange, who was very key in asserting English rule and in sending English and Scottish emigrants to Ireland, an early version of ethnic cleansing in the north of the island.

So Irish Americans were showing their support for Ireland, not as part of the UK, but in the hopes of it being a free Irish state. Over the years, especially after the bulk of Ireland was freed, this message was lost in the celebration.



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